Though we may be making great advancements in the area of water purification, the technology is still out of reach in parts of the world where it is needed most. While we have fancy water purifiers in the developed world, these filters just aren’t affordable or practical in places where they could save lives and improve the quality of life.
Scientists at MIT may have created a solution that can save lives in developing countries. They have used sapwood from white pine trees to create a water filter that can remove 99 percent of E. Coli bacteria, which is the most infamous bacteria found in contaminated water. Sapwood acts as a natural filter because it is the part of the tree that lets water pass while holding back bacteria. The wood has tiny pores that have a diameter of 70 microns, which makes it suitable for filtering bacteria that are usually greater than 200 microns in size.
Viruses are much smaller and can pass through the filter, but this method works just as well as any modern equivalents. Rohit Karnik, co-author of the study, said, “Today’s filtration membranes have nanoscale pores that are not something you can manufacture in a garage very easily. The idea here is that we don’t need to fabricate a membrane, because it’s easily available. You can just take a piece of wood and make a filter out of it.”
Karnik says that they will still look for more plant species that can be used as an effective filter. This new study is a great step towards improving the lives of thousands of people in backward and developing areas. The ultimate goal is that one-day, people who need clean water will simply be able to chip the bark off a tree and be able to filter their water readily and easily.